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Google may finally liberate Photos and Hangouts from Google+

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Pichai also sees opportunity in China for Google Play

The current iteration of Google+ may not be around for much longer. In an extensive interview with Forbes, Google's product czar Sundar Pichai says the company may break out features like Photos and Hangouts from Google+. Pichai says communications is a key area of concern for the company, and it may change some things up within Google+ to address the issues. "I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications [Hangouts], photos, and the Google+ stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area," Pichai told Forbes.

Pichai sees opportunity for Google in China

Pichai said Google will continue to invest in Hangouts, but it doesn't necessarily need to take on messaging powerhouses like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, since they're on Android. "Things like WhatsApp are a great example of success that others have had on Android, which we see as welcome innovation on the platform," Pichai said. "In the aggregate, we also care about building great services for people. At that level, we view communications as an important area. But that doesn’t mean the answer is always a vertical service. We do have products like Hangouts which we will invest in and evolve. But we also care about the platform in these areas, how we evolve the platform so we support others to do these innovations as well."

Pichai also spoke on China, a market where Android is flourishing, but Google Play does not have a foothold, and has dealt with censorship from the Chinese government. After acknowledging issues with the Chinese government, Pichai said Google has seen interest in Google Play from Chinese developers and the potential for a brighter future in the country is present. "We obviously have had a set of issues in the past, but we also see opportunities. We have seen a lot of interest from Chinese developers on Google Play, because the extent to which Android is used," Pichai said. "I see [China] as a huge opportunity in which we are playing as an enabling platform today and hopefully we have a chance to offer other services in the future."